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1/14 Taylor, TX: Update on U.S. Concentration Camp for Immigrant Families
Released 17 January 2007  By Marisa Trevino -

Update on U.S. Concentration Camp for Immigrant Families

By Marisa Trevino,

January 14, 2007

If you're a regular reader of Latina Lista, then you remember when we first reported last month about the T. Don Hutto Residential facility in Taylor, Texas.

According to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fact Sheet:

"The facility provides an effective and humane alternative to maintain the unity of alien families as they await the outcome of their immigration hearings or the return to their home countries."

As we all know, a press release (especially from the government) seldom reflects true reality.

Either that, or there is finally proof that the government definition of "humane alternative" leaves a lot to be desired.

What was uncovered behind the barbed wire of the T. Don Hutto facility was that children of all ages were being forced to wear the standard prison uniform the orange jumpsuit.

Also, children were only receiving one hour of instruction daily, and that was English classes. Their playtime was a half hour of indoor recreation.

Now, Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Sr., a South Texan human rights activist, who has been instrumental in bringing attention to this disgraceful operation, is reporting some small progress.

In an e-mail that he received from Rebecca Bernhardt, the Immigration, Border and National Security Policy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, people are getting nervous that the poor treatment and less than logical conduct regarding the children is coming to public attention.

So, they've made a few changes:

Rebecca writes: Many of you have probably heard that since the protests held in December, the Williamson County Commissioners toured the T. Don Hutto Facility and certified as humane and decent. What you probably haven't heard is that, probably as a result of the protests and related media attention, the conditions in the facility have changed. We know that the education, in particular, has received a major overhaul, and children are now receiving four hours of education a day, instead of just one hour. We also know that at least some of the detainees are reporting that the food has improved, at least a little bit.

Though this is a start, it's not the ultimate goal for those of us concerned about the operations of this facility, which is, no child should be imprisoned under such conditions.

To that end, Rebecca further writes: The ACLU of Texas has also drafted a proposed resolution, for the Texas Legislature, that asks the Department of Homeland Security to exhaust all less punitive options before ever resorting to detaining families. We are very hopeful that this resolution will receive sponsorship and be filed as a proposed resolution with the legislature soon.

But as experience teaches anyone who deals with the government, you can never sit back and hope they will do the right thing. The issue must always remain in the forefront of the public so that it remains top-of-mind with legislators.

To help keep this issue alive, Jay is planning a historic 5,000 mile mega march in mid-February from San Diego, California to the Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas. He invites anyone to join him who is:

(1) opposed to the border wall, (2) if you are interested in putting and end to incarcerating women and children in prison camps on American soil (3) if you're interested in preventing the death toll that is as a result of failed immigration policies in this country (4) some of, or (5) all of the above.

Documentarian Jesse Salmeron captured the sad images of Jay's last vigil outside the Hutto facility on Christmas Eve. To see Jesse's video of it, check out his posting of that night.

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